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TN, Karnataka: Again Cauvery runs through it

Karnataka proposes two dam projects on river; TN says they violate final award of disputes tribunal

Written by Arun Janardhanan |
May 11, 2015 4:14:40 am
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What is the Mekedatu dam controversy?
Karnataka has proposed two dam projects across Cauvery near Mekedatu, in Ramanagaram district. The project is expected to help the state store 48 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of water. In November 2014, the state government invited Global Expression of Interest for a feasibility study on construction of two reservoirs at Mekedatu, in the Cauvery basin. The project is envisaged to ensure adequate drinking water supply to Bengaluru and to recharge the ground water tables in the region. In the March 2015 budget of Karnataka, Rs 25 crore was allotted to prepare a detailed project report.

Why is Tamil Nadu objecting?
Tamil Nadu has moved the Supreme Court arguing that Karnataka is trying to alter the course of flow of the river by constructing two reservoirs on it, and this would “result in impounding of the flows”. Tamil Nadu also says the project is a violation of the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

What is Karnataka’s response?
CM Siddaramaiah told the state Assembly they would go ahead with the dams, adding, “We are giving them (Tamil Nadu) 192 tmc ft as per the (Cauvery Water Disputes) tribunal order. The construction of Mekedatu hydro electric project is within the rights of Karnataka.”

Why do Karnataka and Tamil Nadu keep arguing over Cauvery?
The 498-km-length river has over 44,000 sq km basin area in Tamil Nadu and 32,000 sq km area in Karnataka. In the 1880s, the Madras Presidency opposed plans of then Mysore king to revive irrigation projects in his territory with the river. Karnataka believes the old agreement was drafted in favour of then Madras presidency.

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Has the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal order helped?
Its interim order decreed Karnataka to release 205 tmc each year to Tamil Nadu. In its final verdict in February 2007, the tribunal recommended 419 tmc to Tamil Nadu (against a demand of 562 tmc), 270 tmc for Karnataka (that sought 562 tmc), 30 tmc for Kerala and 7 tmc for Pondicherry. However, the tribunal’s order has been met with review petitions and petitions seeking further clarifications, keeping the dispute alive.

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